March Double Challenge: Vegetarian For A Month & No Electronics Once A Week

It is almost March, time for another personal challenge, or in this case, two!

As a reminder, I am doing the year-long challenge of not buying anything for myself except for basic hygiene products (much easier now after my go-green for menstruation challenge)!, experiences and food. Even thought it has only been 2 months, I had a big birthday and celebrated 15 years of marriage so if I made it through those, I think I will be ok.

Now, I had scheduled a month of vegetarianism as one of my challenges and thought March would be a great opportunity to do it. This will be a way for me to start getting serious about the food intake aspect of my health – the part I don’t particularly do so well lately.

In addition, I have been feeling a little stressed lately because of work. As in I have started to wake up in the middle of the night stressed. Not good. When I am stressed, I start wasting A LOT of time online and feeling drained.  As such yesterday I randomly declared a no computer and phone day for me (though I did cheat with some TV) and, even with one day, I felt much better. And with that, I have decided to also make March a once a week no technology day – at least no phone and computer.

Let’s do this!

How about you, do you have any fun challenges you are working on you want to share? Have hey made you feel different or change a perspective or lead to permanent habit changes?

Contentment: Celebrating Personal Growth Vs Comparing Self With Others

Perspective…. it’s a funny thing, isn’t it?

Five years ago,  searching for a new job after a 2 year break, this was my thinking:  “If someone would just interview me and give me an opportunity…..I would be so happy with $60k total comp, some 401k match and health benefits. I would not need anything else!”

Well, I nearly cried of happiness when, after many rejections, I was offered $98k plus bonus, over 10% 401k match and ridiculously good benefits, for a job with lots of growth potential. I was so excited, thankful and relieved!

A couple of years and two promotions later, I was making significantly more that I ever expected. I felt engaged and valued. I was learning new things. I felt SO lucky and humbled!  Until….. I learned my total comp was $30-40k less than my peers who got lower review scores and held less responsibilities, had less schooling and experience.

I felt bitter and, as embarrassing as it is to admit, it became a constant thought.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

How was this possible? I was making more money than I ever dreamed of, I loved my job and my peers and yet I felt bitter and unhappy? What happened to my old self, known for her joyfulness?

I had to do something about this. This was absurd and painful.

I was determined to stop defining my worth and happiness from things OUTSIDE of me (how did this happen?). I was to find contentment from within. “The rich man isn’t the one who has the most, but rather the one who needs the least” became my motto.

Taking action

I did two things.

I switched jobs internally and negotiated a nice bump. I felt immediately better having done one of the few things in my control in this situation.

Second, and most importantly,  I made it the top priority to focus on bettering myself from within. Holistically. Purposefully. I made a life plan. Contentment was my new goal.  I began minimizing my possessions and emotional clutter. I got to work. Relentlessly.

Almost a year later, I felt like en entirely new person. The transformation was gradual but evident not just to me but to those around me.

The results

This month, I hit 3 big milestones:

  • Despite a mediocre review, I got an unexpected raise and the largest bonus I have ever received! Total comp is now around $190k plus 401k match and fantastic benefits.
  • This is the first time that 100% of my bonus will go to our ‘buying our freedom’ fund!
  • We crossed $600k in liquid assets (excluding 529s)!

The biggest win

My boss sounded nervous delivering my bonus information, especially after the review (worse I have ever had). He offered that my colleagues were disappointed with their comp, so he was not sure how I was going to react (he is new to this group). I knew some colleagues still make more than me, so…

How did I genuinely feel?

I paused. I took time to let this sink in.  I smiled.

I had made it.

I had once again become that grateful human, experiencing the contentment of not wanting more…..

How about you? What milestones are you celebrating.



Does Your Job Define Who You Are?

Large scale org change… ah how it affords you the opportunity to see people’s true colors! I am always amazed that for so many people, their job and title literally defines who they are. What is happening around their job dictate how they feel about life (talk about giving your power away!). And they are willing to do anything to keep going up, even if by taking other people down. It is all about their ego, not the organizational goals and certainly not about their people.

Now, I have always been a go getter, high achiever, and willing to put the hours and roll up my sleeves to create, as a team, continuous improvement. That is how I derive my satisfaction at work. I still get emotional when I receive feedback from people I managed years ago and tell me no one cared and helped their careers more than me. With that, I have never allowed my job title or salary to dictate my worth or become my identity as a human being.

Increasingly, work feedback and behaviors (hello stealing my ideas with zero credit) from people that are supposed to be on my side has started to kill my spirit. I am treated like a child and told to just do what I am told. I don’t trust anyone. I feel like I went back about 15 years of my professional career, a total waste of my capabilities and skills.

The last drop for me came with the most recent feedback: be more “strategic” and play politics, do not help certain people (from my own team mind you) because that is the only way I was going to get promoted.

Huh. How mediocre and petty of us.

Having already been a very successful career athlete at a young age (among the best in the world as a junior athlete) I can tell you that being the top of any corporate ladder is not something I am searching for.  This is especially true if to do that I have to bring people down instead of try to lift us ALL up.

I am going focus on trying to transform the things in my control and clear the noise of all the backstabbing and non cooperative politics and other nonsense that simply go against who I am. I am better than that.

Lastly, I am adding one thing to my FIRE goal: my personal requirement from when I hand in my resignation is being able to look back and have people know I had THEIR back.

How about you, does your job define you?! How will this affect you when you retire?